Define This: Ikat

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Hello friends!! In an effort to make the entire internet “design jargon savvy” we have this fun series called Define This, where I take your most head-scratching questions and try and explain them in a way so that you too can impress people with your vast knowledge.

What Is Ikat?

Surprisingly, this was one of the most requested Define This terms. Not surprisingly like, “Oh my gosh, doesn’t everyone study weaving styles from around the world?” But for a while it seemed like Ikat was poised to take over Chevron in the “If my house looked like my pin boards” category.

So let’s chat Ikat shall we?

Ikat is traditionally a term for dyeing fabric, not just the name of a specific pattern the way that most of us see it as. The fabric weaver takes the threads and binds them tightly in certain areas to create a reverse dyeing effect. Similar to tie dyeing for those that like specific examples. The only real difference is that Ikat is dyed and then woven while tie dye is woven and then dyed. The pictures below comes from a fantastic article all about Ikat dyeing.

Ikat Process
Image: Pusaka Collection in Indonesian Ikat Textiles

Image: Andrean Collection Blog

Once dyed the weaver will remove the bindings and then the weaving process begins. There are a few different types of Ikat. The first is a Weft Ikat. Weft is the term for the horizontal threads in a fabric. In Weft Ikat these are the threads that are dyed and a plain color makes up for the Welt threads. The second is Welt Ikat where the welt threads are the ones that are dyed and then a plain color is woven in. The third is called a Double Ikat. In a double Ikat both the weft and the welt threads are dyed and woven together to create the pattern.

Though I dare say that most folks that think of the term Ikat are interested more in the pattern that Ikat creates than the actual dyeing process.

Ikat in the term of a pattern typically looks something along these lines.

Ikat Collage
Images: Gray and White Ikat, Pink and Red Ikat, Green and Brown Ikat, Couch

It typically has a very ethnic vibe and multiple colors. And the most typical characteristic is the blur. The pattern lines are not crisp and defined, they are blurred and imperfect. (I love so much that its not perfect, and that you can create things with it that have soul. Perfection can be so boring.) Using Ikat in your home instantly gives it a travelled vibe. It is an ancient fabric pattern that will never go out of style.

Do you have Ikat in your house? Share your links below so we can all oooh and ahhhh!

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Mandi Gubler is a DIY/Shelter Blogger known for her fearless approach to all things Do It Yourself. She is a self proclaimed thrift store junkie, craigslist stalker (not the killing kind) and garage sale maven. Mandi started her blog Vintage Revivals in July 2010 with zero DIY/Design experience. She apparently had a hidden talent that once released, not only changed her life but inspires millions. Mandi's approach to design is simple. She believes that true style has the chance to emerge when you stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, will think, or might say, and do what makes your guts grin.